Kurt Helin

Emmanuel Mudiay

UPDATE: Emmanuel Mudiay near return, but that will not be Wednesday

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UPDATE 7:19 pm: The Timberwolves have changed their mind during pregame warmups, and Emmanuel Mudiay will not play Wednesday night, he still had some soreness after shootaround , the team announced. Expect him to return to the court in the next few games, however.

5:10 pm: Emmanuel Mudiay has a lot of work to do to become a reliable starting point guard in the NBA. That starts with improving his shot — he’s hit just 26.2 percent of his jumpers this season, according to basketball-reference.com. Still, he has flashes of brilliance and a court vision that can’t be taught.

Now he can get back to working on his weaknesses — after missing a dozen games with a high ankle sprain, Mudiay is expected to come off the bench for Denver Nuggets Wednesday, the team announced.

The Nuggets have been snake bit by injuries this season. They have been without Danilo Gallinari, Jameer Nelson, Jusuf Nurkic, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Gary Haris at points.

They need to spend this season developing Mudiay, although he will come off the bench behind Nelson at first. Mudiay was averaging 10.7 points, 5.7 assists and 4 turnovers a game when injured.

Timberwolves hold 90-minute meeting to clear air, regroup

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 09:  Karl-Anthony Towns #32 and Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves react after Ricky Rubio #9 draws a charge from Kent Bazemore #24 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on November 9, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves skipped practice and held a 90-minute team meeting Tuesday one day after becoming just the fourth team this season to lose to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Gathered at center court, each player had a chance to talk about his role on the team, what he needed from his teammates and what he believes needs to happen to pull the Wolves out of an ugly rut.

Minnesota has lost seven of its last eight games to fall to 12-23 this season.

Interim coach Sam Mitchell says he thinks it was important to give his players a chance to communicate directly and get on the same page.

The Wolves host Denver on Wednesday night.

Five Takeaways from NBA Tuesday: Deron Williams rips heart out of Kings

Dallas Mavericks guard Deron Williams (8) shoots a 3-pointer in the final second of the second overtime in an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Dallas. The Mavericks won 117-116. (Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET USE BY AP MEMBERS ONLY; NO SALES
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Just to be clear, if you’re a basketball coach and you headbutt a referee, you should be headed to jail. There is no excuse, it is assault. That has nothing to do with the night in the NBA, just wanted to make that point. Here’s what you need to know from a four-game slate in the Association Tuesday.

1) Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams rip the heart out of Sacramento. DeMarcus Cousins was brilliant Tuesday night — 35 points, 17 rebounds, six steals, four assists — and even sent the game to overtime with a driving layup. Then he played brilliantly in the second overtime and had the Kings up five and looking like they would pick up a quality win.

But then Dirk Nowitzki did this to make it close.

Followed by Derron Williams faking Rudy Gay with the pump fake, and then draining the game-winning three at the buzzer.

2) Klay Thompson goes off, and it’s just another night at the office for Warriors. If your team is playing the Warriors, here is a good rule of thumb: Stick with Klay Thompson at the arc. Do not give the man clean looks. The Lakers chose to ignore that advice. Anthony Brown kind of lazily played back on Thompson early and gave him some space (on the night, 13 of Thompson’s 22 shots were uncontested) and Thompson knocked down the looks and started to get hot. After that it didn’t matter how close Brown or anyone else got because Thompson was feeling it — he had 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, 4-of-7 from three, all just in the first quarter.

“I was just getting open shots,” Thompson said. “Running the break. Running off screens. Have to get credit to my big guys, setting good screens. Just having no hesitation about it, letting it fly.”

Thompson finished with 36, Stephen Curry refuses to accept injury, and the Warriors cruised to a 109-88 win. Just another day at the office for a 33-2 team. The Lakers defended the arc poorly and didn’t get back in transition defense well, the two cardinal sins against Golden State. I think Metta World Peace summed this game up best.

—Kurt Helin from Staples Center in Los Angeles

3) The Knicks have already won as many games as they did all of last season. Carmelo Anthony and Arron Afflalo each had 23 points, Kristaps Porzingis added 17, and the Knicks just swept a home-and-home from the Atlanta Hawks, looking good doing it. The Knicks are looking like a team — Anthony came rushing to the defense of  Porzingis when there was a scuffle on the court. All is right with New York.

Last season the Knicks went 17-65, on their way to the No. 4 pick in the draft. This season they are 17-19 and just 2.5 games out of the playoffs in the shockingly deep East. Maybe Phil Jackson actually knows what he’s doing.

4) JaVale McGee still knows how to throw it down. McGee has become known as much for his mental miscues as anything, leaving people to forget the man is a freakish athlete for a big who should have won the dunk contest over Blake Griffin and his Kia — McGee knows how to finish. Just ask the Kings, he still can.

5) Jimmy Butler drops 32, Derrick Rose returns, Bulls offense keeps clicking and they keep winning. Going back to Christmas Day, the Chicago Bulls have an offensive rating of 111.7 points per 100 possessions, third best in the NBA behind only the Spurs and Thunder. Yes, since Christmas the Bulls have been better on offense than the Warriors, the Clippers and everyone else. They are starting to find their groove, beginning with Jimmy Butler and going down the line.

Jimmy Butler had 32 Tuesday, Pau Gasol 26, Derrick Rose 17 and the Bulls comfortably handled the Bucks 117-106. Chicago has found an offensive identity, so it seems, and with that are looking like the clear second best team in the East. There are a couple better tests coming up this week — Boston and Atlanta — but Chicago has become a team to watch. And Butler is playing like the kind of guy you build your franchise around.

Jimmy Butler scores 32 points to lead Bulls over Bucks, 117-106

Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler, left, passes the ball past Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) to Taj Gibson during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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CHICAGO (AP) — Jimmy Butler had 32 points and a season-high 10 assists to lead the streaking Chicago Bulls to a 117-106 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.

Pau Gasol scored 26 points with 11 rebounds, and Taj Gibson added 11 points and 14 boards as the Bulls led the entire way in their season-best fifth straight win.

Derrick Rose returned to the Bulls after missing three straight games with a sore right hamstring. He showed no effects of the injury and took the ball to the basket all night, finishing with 16 points.

Butler was coming off a record-breaking performance Sunday, when he scored 40 of his 42 points in the second half of a 115-113 victory at Toronto to surpass Michael Jordan’s team mark for points in a half. This time, Butler had 20 points in the first half on 8-of-11 shooting.

Khris Middleton scored 26 for Milwaukee, and Michael Carter-Williams had 20 points and 12 assists.

Milwaukee got to 90-89 on Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s basket with a minute left in the third quarter, but the Bulls answered with an 8-0 run. Antetokounmpo finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Chicago shot 61 percent in the first half and led 67-61. Gasol scored 13 points and Gibson added nine. Middleton led the Bucks with 18 on 7-of-12 shooting.

TIP-INS

Bucks: Jabari Parker played his first professional game in his hometown. Parker, a 2013 graduate of Simeon High School on Chicago’s south side, missed most of the 2014-15 season after ACL surgery on his left knee. He finished with 11 points and seven rebounds. … Milwaukee again played without guard Jerryd Bayless because of a left ankle injury. Bayless was back in the lineup Monday against San Antonio after missing 11 games in December with the same injury. “It just is what it is,” interim coach Joe Prunty said. “Obviously, it is frustrating. You want to be at full strength, but that’s part of the NBA. You look at last night’s game – San Antonio’s without Parker. Chicago’s been without Rose. That’s just part of the NBA. The next man has to be ready to step up.”

Bulls: Chicago faced Milwaukee for the first time since beating the Bucks 120-66 in the Game 6 clincher of their opening-round playoff series last year. It was the worst postseason loss in Bucks history.

 

Stephen Curry on re-re-aggravating leg injury: ‘It’s just a magnet’

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LOS ANGELES — “It’s just a magnet.”

That was how Stephen Curry described getting kicked in the leg again — the same leg with the same contusion that caused him to miss two games recently in hopes of healing this injury.

The question is will there be more rest in Curry’s future? He doesn’t want to sit — he wouldn’t even come out of Tuesday’s game when it happened, with the Warriors blowing the Lakers out — but he admitted this could linger. How long is it supposed to take to heal?

“Probably like four weeks, but I’m not going to sit out four weeks,” Curry said. “Just got to figure out how to protect it when I’m out there on the floor and keep playing.”

The re-injury (or is it re-re-injury if this is the third time?) happened the third quarter of the Warriors’ win. Curry drove and made a scoop layup under and around Lakers’ big man Roy Hibbert. But as he did it their legs collided. Shin on shin. The second it happened Curry came up limping, he was in obvious pain going down the court. The Warriors quickly committed a foul and called time out to get Curry out of the game.

Except he wouldn’t come out.

“I wasn’t going to put him back out at first, but he was pretty adamant about going back out,” Warriors “interim” coach Luke Walton said. “I asked the trainers, and they said he’s good, so we put him back out.”

Walton said if the training staff had said to pull him then it would have been out of Curry’s hands, but they didn’t. The Warriors are a player-friendly organization and Walton is the kind of coach who understands trying to play through pain, so he defers to what the player wants. Walton reminded everyone he used to play with Kobe Bryant in this building, a guy who played through a lot worse, and Walton knows elite competitors don’t want to come out. Ever.

Curry didn’t sound like a guy wanting time off, he wants to play through it.

“It’s just frustrating and annoying and any other adjective you want to throw in there,” Curry said. “Long term it isn’t something I need to worry about, it’s just playing through an injury, it’s just there. It doesn’t get worse unless I get kicked, and that’s happened three times since I did it, so hopefully it won’t keep happening. I’m trying all sorts of pads and stuff, but when I’m out there on the floor I’m not worried about it.”

Whether Curry sits will depend on how he feels over the next couple days, but the Warriors are off until Friday. Still at 33-2 on the season, they can afford to sit him for a couple of games to let this heal a little.

Just don’t expect him to be out a month.